Today we will visit with Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist.


Fannie Lou Hamer. (2014). The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 06:28, Feb 27, 2014, from

Article Source


Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer 1917-1977

Fannie Lou Hamer was born on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. In 1944, she met civil rights activists who encouraged blacks to register to vote, and soon became active in helping. Hamer also worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which fought racial segregation and injustice in the South. In 1964, she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Hamer died in 1977.

Early Life

Civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer was born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was the youngest of 20 children. Her parents were sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta area. Hamer began working the fields when she was only 6 years old.

Around the age of 12, Hamer dropped out of school in order to work full-time and help out her family. She continued to be a share cropper after her 1944 marriage to Perry “Pap” Hamer. The couple worked on a cotton plantation near Ruleville, Mississippi. They were unable to have children after Hamer had a surgery to remove a tumor. During the operation, her surgeon gave Hamer a hysterectomy without her consent.

Civil Rights Activist

In the summer of 1962, Hamer made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activists there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote. Hamer was one of a small group of African Americans in her area who decided to register themselves. On August 31, 1962, she traveled with 17 others to the county courthouse in Indianola to accomplish this goal. They encountered opposition from local and state law enforcement along the way.

Such bravery came at a high price for Hamer. She was fired from her job and driven from the plantation she had called home for nearly two decades—just for registering to vote. But these actions only solidified Hamer’s resolve to help other African Americans get the right to vote. According to The New York Times, she said “They kicked me off the plantation, they set me free. It’s the best thing that could happen. Now I can work for my people.”

Hamer dedicated her life to the fight for civil rights, working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. This organization was comprised mostly of African-American students who engaged in acts of civil disobedience to fight racial segregation and injustice in the South. These acts often were met with violent responses by angry whites. During the course of her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at. She was severely injured in 1963 in a Winona, Mississippi jail. She and two other activists were taken in by police after attending a training workshop. Hamer was beaten so badly that she suffered permanent kidney damage.

In 1964, Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to her state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention. She brought the civil rights struggle in Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at the convention.

The following year, Hamer ran for Congress in Mississippi, but was unsuccessful in her bid.

Along with her political activism, Hamer worked to help the poor and families in need in her Mississippi community. She also set up organizations to increase business opportunities for minorities and to provide childcare and other family services. She helped establish the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

Death and Legacy

In 1976, Hamer was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to fight for civil rights, despite her illness. Hamer died on March 14, 1977, in a hospital in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Hundreds crowded into a Ruleville church to say good-bye to this tireless champion for racial equality. Andrew Young Jr., then a U.S. delegate to the United Nations, gave the eulogy at Hamer’s funeral. He explained, “None of us would be where we are today had she not been here then,” according to The New York Times. Young said that the progress of the Civil Rights Movement had been made through “the sweat and blood” of activists like Hamer. On her tombstone is written one of her most famous quotes: “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Thanks for your attention.



About The BETAA at NJIT Mentor

Long Distance Mentor

2 responses »

  1. Thomas Daniels says:

    You have to admire civil rights activists. They showed true grit and fearlessness in pursuing justice. Fannie Lou Hamer risked her job and possibly her freedom by exercising her rights. This was common back then. Even when certain privileges were rightfully given to blacks they had to face the adversity for their decisions. In a time where blacks were generally kept down her and many other activists took the action to help bring their people up. Even though this was simply taking advantage of a given right it became a statement to inspire other blacks to stand up and take what they deserve. She is definitely an inspiration to me and should be to others to never stop fighting for what you believe in.

  2. Mervy Michael says:

    In 1964, she helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She was a woman who faced tremendous hardship and risked her livelihood to promote what she believed in. She was most known for being involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which tried to remedy racial segregation and in the South. The way she spoke and how passionately she was involved in the Freedom Democratic Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; spoke to her character and relentless devotion to equality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s